Reactions to the sentence handed down on Wednesday by Military Judge Denise Lind were immediate: “We’ll keep fighting for you, Bradley! You’re our hero!” exclaimed many in the courtroom when the verdict was announced.
Others expressed disappointment that Manning was found guilty at all. He had pleaded guilty to 10 of the 22 charges brought against him back in February, and was found guilty of the others, in part or in whole, following his trial. He was declared innocent of violating the Espionage Act, a capital offense that could have brought a death sentence or at least life in prison. Instead, with good behavior and a deduction of 112 days for the “pre-trial punishment” he endured while being held at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia, Manning could be free in less than 10 years.
One of those expressing disappointment was Ben Wizner, a director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project:
When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system. A legal system that doesn't distinguish between leaks to the press in the public interest and treason against the nation will not only produce unjust results, but will deprive the public of critical information that is necessary for democratic accountability.
This is a sad day for Bradley Manning, but it's also a sad day for all Americans who depend on brave whistleblowers and a free press for a fully informed public debate.
Manning’s legal team declared its intention to continue pressing his case. David Coombs, Manning’s lead defense attorney, said he was going to petition President Obama to pardon Manning “or at the very least commute his sentence to time served.” If that fails, Coombs committed to requesting parole for Manning at the earliest opportunity, and each year thereafter, as necessary, to release Manning from prison before the end of his sentence.
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